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Remembering the Indian Ocean tsunami, ten years on

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Ten years ago today, the world dumbstruck by the magnitude of the natural disaster that had just hit a series of countries across Asia and beyond: the Indian Ocean tsunami. Today, we think of all those who lost their lives ten years ago, but also all those who have managed to rebuild their lives since then. Commemorations and ceremonies are being organised in different countries in memory of the disappeared – particularly in the Indonesian region of Banda Aceh, which bore the brunt of the shock ten years ago.

Within ECHO’s staff, those who have been around long enough remember this disaster in vivid detail, simply because the magnitude of the human tragedy was beyond anything any of us had ever witnessed. Three of our staff members share their impressions of the Indian Ocean tsunami.

The European Union was the first major international donor to reach out to the affected populations: on the day of the tsunami itself, a first envelope of €3 million was announced to bring emergency relief to the devastated zones, and within five days, another €20 million were made available. In total, the Commission's humanitarian aid amounted to €123 million to the tsunami affected regions, with an additional €350 million to the long-term reconstruction – apart from the aid provided by Member States.

Devrig was working with one of ECHO's partners at the time of the tsunami. He shares what he remembers from Indonesia ten years ago.Heinke was working as Regional Information Officer in Bangkok in December 2004. She shares her impressions from Sri Lanka where she was sent a couple of days after the Tsunami.Aldo was working for the ECHO field office in Bangkok end 2004. He was on a speed boat with his pregnant wife when the tsunami hit...


On 26 December 2004, a massive underwater earthquake off the coast of Indonesia triggered the largest wave in human memory, which crashed with full force into the North-Western coast of the Indonesian island of Sumatra, killing close to 170 000 people in that country alone. But the waves then made their way across the oceans, and in the absence of warning systems, thousands more were caught unaware on the beaches of India, Sri Lanka and Southern Thailand, and even some as far as the Horn of Africa. Overall, more than 230 000 people died that morning, and millions were left homeless, triggering one of the largest humanitarian operations of all times.